New businesses come and go every week in Toronto. The restaurant business is the most infamous for quick turnover, yet no industry is immune. Honest Ed's closed forever December 31, 2016 after sixty eight years in business. The founder, 'Honest' Ed Mirvish, was a local legend, the building is an iconic destination and the business itself is a Toronto institution giving many generations of people fond memories of going with their parents for one of their first bargain basement experiences or memories of participating in the annual Turkey giveaway. On a marketing scorecard Honest Ed's did nearly everything right: it had a founder people like and remember, a unique atmosphere, a venue worth visiting, fond memories customers could refer to, competitive prices, a social responsibility initiative and frequent free press. And yet after all of these perfect scores the business still did not survive.
It is definitely essential to have a great marketing strategy, execute it and to create customers who love your businesses almost as much as you do. But it is just as necessary to have a long-term view of how you want your business to grow, why you want your business to exist and how long you intend to be involved. We have all heard business and marketing gurus (like Simon Sinek) talk about the "why" of your business as a reason to stay motivated to work at it every day. But beyond your reason for daily motivation what is your end goal? Is this business a project for you or a legacy for your kids? Are you willing to sell it for the right price or are you creating a movement? Can you envision evolving into something else or will the core problem of your business always need solving? These are questions that you must answer for yourself before you can recruit effective and loyal people to your team.
At the same time that Honest Ed's has shut it's doors for good A Different Booklist is still fighting the good fight on the other side of Bathurst Street. For over twenty years Itha Sadu and Miguel San Vincente have been owners of the bookstore and stalwarts of the black community in Toronto. The store is more than a place to do business, it connects people. This is a business that has a 'why' that extends beyond the building and even beyond their product, books.
So what's your end game? How do you want your business story to play out? What's your exit strategy?
Tell me in the comments below. Where do you see your business in five, fifteen or twenty-five years?